Hello and welcome to The Midge, the e-bulletin that takes a bite out of politics in Scotland and elsewhere. 

Front pages

The Herald:

In The Herald, senior reporter Gerry Braiden reveals the conclusions of a Scottish Government-tasked group looking at drink advertising and sponsorship. 

The National continues its look at the implications of a hard Brexit for Scotland with the NFU Scotland president saying cheap food could become thing of the past. 

The Guardian reports that Donald Trump wants a $54 billion increase in defence spending, paid for by cutting foreign aid and environmental projects. 

The Mail splashes on the BBC director-general Tony Hall “savaging” a TV licence fee collection agency. See Afore Ye Go, below. 

The Times has an article from Nicola Sturgeon in which the FM accuses the UK Government of taking an “its way or no way” approach over Brexit. 

The Telegraph says Ukip is “at war” with former leader Nigel Farage calling for its sole MP, Douglas Carswell, to be thrown out.  

The Herald:

Exclusive: Caroline Wilson in the Evening Times says crime rings are targeting clothing banks. 

Camley’s cartoon

The Herald:

Camley gives his verdict on a crime wave at Scotland's courts. 

FFS: Five in five seconds

What’s the story? Former Labour Minister Douglas Alexander has waded into the Sadiq Khan/SNP row over racism. 

Ah, Mr Alexander. What’s he doing now? He’s recently been appointed a senior fellow on the “Future of Diplomacy” project at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where he was described by a professor in the press release as “one of the most formidable European politicians of his generation”. He is also visiting professor at King’s College in London. Oh, and don’t forget his appointment in 2015 as senior adviser to Bono. 

Remind me of the row? London mayor Sadiq Khan started it by writing in the Daily Record: “There’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race or religion.” But in his speech to the Scottish Labour conference he rowed back on this by adding: “I’m not saying that nationalists are somehow racist or bigoted.” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale backed him, saying he was not calling the SNP racist. The row has rumbled on, though, with Claire Heuchan, a PhD student at the University of Stirling, writing a piece on the Guardian website yesterday titled “The parallels between Scottish nationalism and racism are clear”. 

What has Mr Alexander said? Here are his tweets, in order:

The Herald:

The Herald:

The Herald:

The Herald:

The Herald:

Has Bono waded in? Radio silence thus far. 

Afore Ye Go

The Herald:

“If an independence referendum does arise, it will not be down to bad faith on the part of the Scottish Government, but to sheer intransigence on the part of the UK Government.”

FM Nicola Sturgeon. Times. Getty Images

The Herald:

"I am very happy, we are going forward. Policies will be coming out, campaigns are going on.”

Jeremy Corbyn adopts a hakuna matata philosophy as it emerges his Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, believes a “soft coup” against the Labour leader, led by elements within the party and the “Murdoch media”, is underway. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Herald:

"Enforcement is clearly important for public confidence in the licence fee system. However, it must always be carried out in a way that is fair and reasonable.”

BBC director general Tony Hall in a letter to licence fee collection agents Capita after the Mail reported the firm were deliberately targeting vulnerable people who have not paid. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The Herald:

“HA HA HA HA HA .. Let’s be honest, the greatest Oscars fiasco in history couldn’t have happened to a bunch of smugger, more deserving people.”

Broadcaster, Trump defender and scourge of liberal luvvies Piers Morgan. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Nicholas Soames MP, master of the hashtag, strikes again.

The obligatory Specsavers joke.

The Herald:

"I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We needed independent media to hold people like me to account.”

President George W Bush (above, greeting Michelle Obama at the Trump inauguration) defends press freedom. NBC Today. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Thanks for reading. Twitter: @alisonmrowat